Musician and CISAC president Jean Michel Jarre was the draw of the day in Midem’s main room, as he delivered some no-holds-barred views on why Big Tech shouldn’t be seen as the enemy of the music industry and creators – but also why companies like Google must become trusted partners.
“Artists are very good and strong at writing protest songs, but when it comes to protesting about the value of their art, they are quite vulnerable, and particularly facing the internet,” said Jarre, who argued that while the founders of companies like Google and Facebook “are somehow closer to music and film and arts than a lot of politicians are”, they need to negotiate fairly with artists.
“We need to sit around these people making billions with our content, and say ‘Guys, you love us, we are not hating you, we need to sit together and find a decent business model‘,” he said. “We should sit sooner or later with Google, with Facebook, all of these companies, and say ‘don’t forget, the smart part of the smartphone is us’.”
Jarre provided zinger after zinger during his on-stage interview, from stressing that “our fight and our battle about intellectual property is not defending the rights of rich artists sat on their pot of gold” to warning the big technology companies that their own futures may not be secure.
“We should tell Google, Facebook ‘be careful guys, because 10 years from now you may become the next Myspace. We need you, but you need us. We were existing before electricity, and we will exist after internet’,” he said, before concluding with another warning: “We should go straight to the people in charge of YouTube making billions on our back. This has to change.” (Full report on Music Ally)
YouTube loomed large (again) in an earlier session on multi-channel networks (MCNs) – the new ecosystem of companies that has emerged to run the YouTube businesses of musicians and other creators.
YouTube’s director of music content partnerships, Vivien Lewit, gave another statistic on the company’s involvement with music. “We are generating tens of millions of dollars every year for the industry. It’s a flow of revenue that never existed before,” she said. “Video on YouTube is the cornerstone of income of a career for many artists… For them, the remuneration that’s coming through their music videos is really powerful. It’s sustaining.”
Former YouTube exec Patrick Walker – now chief content officer at MCN Base79 – warned that life isn’t rosy for every MCN in 2014, though, suggesting that some are “struggling for financing” and predicting rough seas ahead. “I think this year’s going to be a tough year, a lot of consolidation I think, and some death along the highway,” he said.
That’s one reason why a number of MCNs are looking to build businesses beyond YouTube on a range of other platforms. “We have an obligation to our clients to remove our dependency, if you like, on just one platform… It’s just normal business practice, but I think it’s an important thing to think about.” (Full report on Music Ally)
The annual Midem Hack Day demo session was as inventive as ever, with 18 hacks from the group of 25 hackers who’ve been working hard over the weekend to create apps around music and metadata.
Star of the day was Yuli Levtov with his DJ Spotify app, figuring out a way to turn Spotify into a fully beat-matching DJ tool, complete with the ability to sort tracks by BPM and key:
Today also saw the announcement of the winners in the Midemlab startups contest – there’s a separate post on those – and the gold, silver and bronze winners in the Midem Marketing competition. More on them here.
Also sparking debate today was The Orchard’s Scott Cohen during a panel session on big music data, when he suggested that “The opportunity is the data. Maybe the data is more valuable than the music: The data you collect from the usage of that music will be more valuable over time and generate more income than just collecting from the music.”
Cohen also made waves with his suggestion that the music industry’s current mania for better music discovery may be barking up the wrong tree. “Discovery is not a problem. Recommendation is not a problem. I think it’s already been solved: nobody has a problem finding music, listening to music, anything,” he said.
“And they don’t want more! They have enough music. Are you gonna introduce a new song to them from an artist they’ve never heard once a day? Come off it… It’s too much… It’s too much noise. They want the things they want.” (Full report on Music Ally).
Finally, the day ended with a panel session on licensing, debating the challenges of establishing who has the rights for what – a perennial talking point at Midem – as well as diving into remix culture and other challenges to the established licensing schemes.
Josh Deutsch of Downtown Records came up with the best soundbite on the latter front: “Without Danger Mouse’s Grey Album, Gnarls Barkley wouldn’t have sold millions.”
This is the last of three daily Midem 2014 wraps, by Music Ally‘s Stuart Dredge. Dredge will also write the Midem Quick Review, our official news & trends summary, which you can sign up for via the box on the right-hand-side of this very blog!